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Showing posts from October, 2013

The Police Fit Up Is Unravelling

There is still more to come in the so-called 'plebgate' saga, but the scandalous tale of a senior cabinet minister being fitted up for political reasons by select members of the police force is certainly unravelling.  The Police Federation behaved disreputably at the time, as I noted here, and today the deputy chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission has more or less confirmed that in her view the Federation behaved dishonestly in its media accounts of the meeting it held with Andrew Mitchell, the then chief whip who was under fire.

The Police Federation looked like a hostile and malevolent organisation at the time.  What is perhaps more concerning is that members of the Downing Street team - charged with the protection of ministers and other VIPs - also appears to have contained the canker of dishonest and deliberately malicious behaviour within its ranks.  There is some way to go yet before the Met police finally fesses up and works out where to go from here, b…

Adam Afriyie's Early Hubris

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Adam Afriyie's leadership bid is still only in embryonic form - there is noticeably no vacancy at the moment, nor much of a call for one - but even so it looks as if it's crashing fast.  Mr. Afriyie has not discouraged people from referring to him as a "Tory Obama" but doesn't seem to share the US President's political acumen.  He doesn't actually seem to share anyone's political acumen to be honest.  I never thought a Eurosceptic proposal could be greeted with contempt and hilarity within the Tory party, but such is Mr. Afriyie's standing amongst his parliamentary colleagues that that is exactly what has happened with his like-to-be-stillborn amendment to the euro referendum Bill.  Most of the 2010 Tory intake have signed a letter urging him to drop his amendment, which demands a referendum next year, according to a report from James Forsyth in the Spectator.  Forsyth also tantalisingly claims that if Afriyie doesn't drop his amendment then …

The Fourth Estate Is Too Powerful To Be Left Alone

A Privy Council Committee has rejected the newspapers' own ideas for the regulation of their industry and as such the ball is back in the politicians' court.

It seems utterly contrary to all principles of a free society to have politicians discussing - and preparing to legislate on - the freedom of the press at all, but in the UK in the early 21st century the sad fact is that our Fourth Estate is out of control.  Subject to no authority but its own and wielding immense power over public and politicians alike, the print media continues to dole out its own brand of harassment, influence peddling and political self-righteousness to often terrible effect.  This was seen in its most vigorous form again in the Daily Mail's now infamous article and headline about Ed Miliband's father.  When they printed Mr. Miliband's response to the attacks on his dead father, they ensured that his article was surrounded by further antagonistic reporting and editorialising.  This was ha…

Anything Interesting About the Reshuffles?

Apart from the people directly involved, no-one's lives are going to change as a result of the three party reshuffles held in Westminster yesterday.  We don't look at them for seismic political shifts, but see them more as cautious statements of political intent.  Thus, Ed Miliband appears to have very slightly shifted his party towards a more left-wing position and ditched a few Blairites; David Cameron has marginally increased the female profile of his party's governing ministers and shifted a little into the centre ground; and Nick Clegg has thrown a bomb into the Home Office as well as sacked a perfectly inoffensive Cabinet minister.

The most interesting move has been that of Lib Dem Norman Baker to the Home Office, as effectively the Lib Dem deputy to Theresa May.  Baker has famously cast aspersions on the suicide of scientist David Kelly (part of the collateral damage of the infamous Iraq war dossier and the Campbell/Blair feud with the BBC), suggesting he was murde…

The Daily Mail's Torrid Little War

The Daily Mail has certainly gone into overdrive in its battle against the Miliband family, with its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, sending journalists under cover to a memorial service for Ed Miliband's uncle.

It isn't worth recounting the full saga in this post, although the Media Blog has a pretty comprehensive analysis, complete with the reminder of the Mail's own rather disreputable past as a Nazi supporting paper in the 1930s (with the present owner's great grandfather writing eloquently in defence of the blackshirts).  Nick Clegg, too, had a good line when he commented that "if anyone excels in denigrating and often vilifying a lot about modern Britain, it's the Daily Mail".

It is no secret that the Mail, in common with most other newspapers in Britain, is vigorously opposed to any regulation of it by a statutory body.  The way it's handled the Miliband affair has probably made the case for such a body stronger than ever.  The Mail is a po…

Politics Reading

I've updated the reading list to include Damian McBride's memoirs and Matthew D'Ancona's new book on the Coalition, "In It Together", so for those wanting to check out a small selection of good, general reader friendly British politics books, here is the current list for AS level students (together with a few suggested websites and blogs, but the sidebar on this site is more comprehensive.)

There's a good review of the D'Ancona book by Gaby Hinsliff in the Guardian here. She admires D'Ancona's insights, but notes the rather partial nature of his tale.